Álvarez was born in Nueva York and shortly thereafter travelled to the a Dominican Republic, birthplace of her parents. She spent the first 10 years of her life in the D.R.,
until her father’s political activism forced them to
return to the US. She had lived quite comfortably in the DR, surrounded by several generations who instilled in her the importance of telling stories, and later encouraged her to develop her own storytelling talents. Once back in the US she missed her family, culture and country, and faced the problem of having to learn English.